Tansen

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Tansen (Tan Sen, Ramtanu)
Tansen of Gwalior. (11.8x6.7cm) Mughal. 1585-90. National Museum, New Delhi..jpg
Tansen of Gwalior,
a Mughal painting (1585-90)[1]
Background information
Birth nameRamtanu
Bornc. 1493
Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh
Died1586
Agra[2]
GenresHindustani Classical Music
Occupationsmusician, instrumentalist, vocalist, music studies
Years activeTill 1562: Raja Ramchandra Singh, Rewa (princely state)
After 1562: Emperor Akbar

Tansen (c. 1500 – 1586), also known to as Tan Sen or Ramtanu, was a well known person of North Indian (Hindustani) classical music. He was born in a Hindu family. He learned and perfected his art in the northwest region of modern Madhya Pradesh. He began his career and spent most of his adult life in the court and patronage of the Hindu king of Rewa (princely state), Raja Ramchandra Singh (r.1555–1592). He became famous for his musical abilities and studies.[3] Mughal Emperor Akbar sent messengers to Raja Ramchandra Singh , requesting Tansen to join the musicians at the Mughal court. In 1562, about the age of 60, the Vaishnava[4] musician Tansen joined the Akbar court.

Tansen was a composer, musician and vocalist. He has been attributed for large number of compositions in northern regions of the Indian subcontinent. He was also an instrumentalist who made musical instruments better and popular. Akbar considered him as a Navaratnas (nine jewels). He gave him the title Mian in his honor, meaning learned man.[5]

There are many legends about Tansen in Akbar court historian accounts and gharana literature.[5] One of them says that he could bring down the rains with Raga Megh Malhar. It is also said that he could light lamps by performing Raga Deepak.[6][7] Other legends talk about his ability to communicate with animals through his music. Once, a white elephant was captured, but it was wild and could not be controlled. Finally, Tansen sang to the elephant who calmed down and the emperor was able to ride him.[8]

References[change | change source]

  1. Stuart Cary Welch; Metropolitan Museum of Art (1985). India: Art and Culture, 1300-1900. Metropolitan Museum of Art. pp. 171–172. ISBN 978-0-03-006114-1.
  2. Susheela Misra (1981). Great masters of Hindustani music. Hem Publishers. p. 16.
  3. Bonnie C. Wade (1998). Imaging Sound: An Ethnomusicological Study of Music, Art, and Culture in Mughal India. University of Chicago Press. pp. 108–110. ISBN 978-0-226-86841-7.
  4. Edmour J. Babineau (1979). Love of God and Social Duty in the Rāmcaritmānas. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 54. ISBN 978-0-89684-050-8.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Davar, Ashok (1987). Tansen – The Magical Musician. India: National book trust.
  6. George Ruckert; Ali Akbar Khan (1998). The Classical Music of North India: The first years study. Munshiram Manoharlal. p. 270. ISBN 978-81-215-0872-8.
  7. Deva, Bigamudre (1995). Indian Music. India: Taylor & Francis.
  8. "Tansen". culturalindia.net.